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The common muck o'the world: he covets lęs's
He's right noble;
Call for Coriolanus.'
I do owe them still
It then remains,
? Than misery itself would give; ] Misery for avarice; because a miser signifies avaricious. Warburton.
- and is content To spend the time, to end it.] I know not whether my conceit will be approved, but I cannot forbear to think that onr author wrote thus:
- he rewards
To spend his time, to spend it.
Malone. 9 Call for Coriolanus.] I have supplied the preposition-for, to complete the measure. Steevens. 1 It then remains, That
you do speak to the people.] Coriolanus was banished U. C. 262. But till the time of Manlius Torquatus, U. C. 393, the senate chose both the consuls: And then the people, assisted by the seditious temper of the tribunes, got the choice of one. But if Shakspeare makes Rome a democracy, which at this time was a perfect aristocracy; he sets the balance even in his Timon, and turns Athens, which was a perfect democracy, into an aristocracy. But it would be unjust to attribute this entirely to his ignorance; it sometimes proceeded from the too powerful blaze of his imagination, which, when once lighted up, made all acquired knowledge fade and disappear before it. For sometimes again we find him, when occasion serves, not only writing up to the truth of history, but fitting his sentiments to the nicest manners of his peculiar subject, as well to the dignity of his characters, or the dittates of nature in general. Warburton.
I do beseech you,
Sir, the people
Put them not to 't:
It is a part
Do not stand upon't.
[Flourish. Then exeunt Senators. Bru. You see how he intends to use the people.
The inaccuracy is to be attributed, not to our author, but to Plutarch, who expressly says, in his Life of Coriolanus, that “it was the custome of Rome at that time, that such as dyd sue for any office, should for certen dayes before be in the market-place, only with a poor gowne on their backes, and without any coate underneath, to praye the people to remember them at the day of election.” North’s translation, p. 244. Malore.
2 Your honour with your form.] I believe we should read “Your honour with the form.” That is, the usual form.
M. Mason. Your form, may mean the form which custom prescribes to you.
Steevena. 3 We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,
Our purpose to them;] We entreat you, tribunes of the people, to recommend and enforce to the plebeians, what we propose to them for their approbation ; namely the appointment of Coriolanus to the consulship. Malone.
This passage is rendered almost unintelligible by the false
Sic. May they perceive his intent! He will require
Come, we ’ll inform them
The same. The Forum.
Enter several Citizens. | Cit. Once,** if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.
2 Cit. We may, sir, if we will.
3 Cit. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do:5 for if he show us
punctuation. It should evidently be pointed thus, and then the sense will be clear:
We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,
Wish we all joy and honour. To them, means to the people, whom Menenius artfully joins to the consul, in the good wishes of the senate. M. Mason.
4 Once,] Once here means the same as when we say, once for all. Warburton.
This use of the word once is found in The Supposes, by Gascoigne :
“ Once, twenty-four ducattes he cost me.” Farmer. I doubt whether once here signifies once for all. I believe, it means,
“ if he do but so much as require our voices;" as in the following passage in Holinshed's Chronicle:“
- they left many of their servants and men of war behind them, and some of them would not once stay for their standards.” Malone.
* The meaning may be this, if he do require our voices, once we ought not to deny him : his services entitle him to the office, and though we do not like him, yet gratitude requires we should elect him once; That debt discharged, obligation ceases; we are not bound to give him our voices a second time. Am Ed.
5 We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do: ] Power first signifies natural power or force, and then moral power or right. Davies has used the same word with great variety of meaning:
“Use all thy powers that heavenly power to praise,
his wounds, and tell us his deeds, we are to put our tongues into those wounds, and speak for them; so, if he tell us his noble dee is, we must also tell him our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is monstrous: and for the multitude to be ingrateful, were to make a monster of the multitude ; of the which, we being members, should bring ourselves to be monstrous members.
1 Cit. And to make us no better thought of, a little help will serve : for once, when we stood up about the corn, he himself stuck not to call us—the many-headed multitude.?
3 Cit. We have been called so of many ; not that our heads are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald, but that our wits are so diversly coloured : and truly I think, if all our wits were to issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south; and their consent of one direct waył should be at once to all the points o'the compass.
- for once, when we stood up about the corn,] (Old copyonce we stood up] That is, as soon as ever we stood up. This word is still used in nearly the same sense, in familiar or rather vulgar language, such as Shakspeare wished to allot to the Roman populace: “ Once the will of the monarch is the only law, the constitution is destroyed.” Mr. Rowe and all the subsequent editors read-for once, when we stood up, &c. Malone.
As no decisive evidence is brought to prove that the adverb once has at any time signified-as soon as ever, I have not rejected the word introduced by Mr. Rowe, which, in my judgment, is necessary to the speaker's meaning. Steevens.
?-many-headed multitude.] Hanmer reads, many-headed monster, but without necessity. To be many-headed includes monstrousness. Fohnson.
some auburn,] The folio reads, some Abram. I should unwillingly suppose this to be the true reading; but we have al. ready heard of Cain and Abram-coloured beards. Steevens.
The emendation was made in the fourth folio. Malone.
9- if all our wits were to issue out of one skull, &c.] Meaning though our having but one interest was most apparent, yet our wishes and projects would be infinitely discordant. Warlurton.
To suppose all their wits to issue from one skull, and that their common consent and agreement to go all one way, should end in their flying to every point of the compass, is a just description of the variety and inconsistency of the opinions, wishes, and actions of the multitude. M. Mason.
and their consent of one direct way -] See Vol. VII. p. 80, n. 7; and Vol. X, p. 10, n. 4. Steevens. VOL. XIII.
2 Cit. Think you so? Which way, do you judge, my wit would fly?
3 Cit. Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's will, 'tis strongly wedged up in a block-head: but if it were at liberty, 'twould, sure, southward.
2 Cit. Why that way?
3 Cit. To lose itself in a fog; where being three parts melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return for conscience sake, to help to get thee a wife.
2 Cit. You are never without your tricks :-You may, you may.?
3 Cit. Are you all resolved to give your voices? But that 's no matter, the greater part carries it. I say, if he would incline to the people, there was never a worthier
go by him.
Enter CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS. Here he comes, and in the gown of humility; mark his behaviour. We are not to stay all together, but to come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and by threes. He's to make his requests by particulars; wherein every one of us has a single honour, in giving him our own voices with our own tongues: therefore follow me, and I 'll direct you
shall All. Content, content.
[Exeunt. Men. O sir, you are not right: have you not known The worthiest men have done 't? Cor.
What must I say?--
O me, the gods!
Think upon me? Hang 'em!
2 You may, you may.] This colloquial phrase, which seems to signify-You may divert yourself, as you please, at my expense,-has occurred already in Troilus and Cressida:
“ Hel. By my troth, sweet lord, thou hast a fine forehead. “ Pan. Ay, you may, you may.” Steevens.